Saturday, November 01, 2003

Liberal Cage Match

Calpundit wonders why Armed Liberal took him to task for an earlier entry about terrorism; he believes it to be his tone.

The problem here isn't your tone, Kevin, it's AL's. His gratuitous and senseless attacks on the Democrats for disagreeing with his own position deserves criticism, even if the prescriptions he comes up with are correct. It's the old "gain credibility with the right by attacking the left" game, and its no more palateable when being done by AL than MK. Less, actually, because AL has a lot more credibility.

There's no reason whatsoever that a Democrat couldn't adopt most of the suggestions that AL brought up (the extra division might be a hard sell, but other than that) but they're bringing up a problem that he isn't: that his proposals won't make a bit of difference unless America does three other things.

First, it needs to recultivate alliances with traditional allies that have been alienated by the "war of civilizations" rhetoric. Attacking Islam isn't going to sell in Europe, where Muslims are a significant minority, and alienating Europe is bad strategy if you're trying to play the "West against the rest". Second, it needs to rebuild its soft power assets through actions that demonstrate integrity and consistency in its foreign policy that goes beyond self-interest. Third, it needs to be completely decoupled from conservative government-hating bullcrap, which is the only reason I can see that his sixth recommendation about moving away from "big bureaucracies" exists.

The problem here is that old Republican game of believing that there's only one way to look at foreign policy, and it's theirs. The comments on AL's page are filled with "ooh, you've spoken Truth, but those nasty Dems won't ever understand it". Please. Not only does that make you either a practictioner or a tool of the post-structuralist "define the debate the way we want it" games that define neo-conservatism, but it's simply not true: the "lefty critique" has a lot to recommend it even if you don't like it because it challenges your worldview. It can be countered, but I've never met a response to that critique yet that wasn't a pathetic exercise in knocking down strawmen. (Or "Fisking", which is just a strawman turned on its head.)

(It's like how the right tries to defend Iraq nowadays; a pathetic exercise in namecalling barely worth the effort of reading, much less response.)

Like I said, I like a fair bit of what AL has had to say, but he's Kausing it up whilst knocking down strawmen. It needs to stop. We've all got better things to do.

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